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Women Celebrate A Day's Freedom

Rural women in India’s Maharashtra state get to play and dance – normally considered a taboo – on Nag Panchami.

Nag Panchami or the Snake festival has a totally different meaning for women in Walhe village of India’s Maharashtra state as the day allows them to dance and play on the occasion of the festival. Rohini, the correspondent of this video gives us an exclusive insight into this tradition which allows a rare chance to women in her community to enjoy freedom.
In the rural belt of India – a patriarchal society – women labour harder than men do, their areas of work stretching from home and kitchen to the paddy fields. Yet their lives are dogged with problems such as female infanticide/foeticide, early marriage, dowry, forced divorce, malnutrition, poor health and lack of education.

These are endemic problems existing in all states, irrespective of religion and communities. In rural Mahasrashtra where Rohini, the correspondent of this video lives, women are treated as inferior to men. So while men are free to do whatever they want, women’s movement is restricted and they must take special permission from their family members even to step out of their homes. They are especially forbidden to sing, dance or play in public view. Those who do so, are looked down upon as women of loose morality.

However, once in a year – on the day of Nagpanchami this bar is lifted and women are expected to dance and play games. So this day local women gather at the snake goddess temple to worship. However, what they really wait for is the moment when the worshipping is over and dance and games can begin. Once that moment comes, everyone joins in dancing and playing – acts that are otherwise considered a taboo.

Rohini says that throughout the year women of her community look forward to this day when nobody will shout at them for dancing or, nobody will accuse them of breaking a tradition by playing. However, after this day, they will have to return to the life of restriction again. Rohini feels that this must change. She wants the patriarchal society to change its thoughts and values, so that women like her will not have to enjoy for one long year to enjoy a day’s freedom.


olutosin's picture

The other way round

Thanks for posting this girlfriend, I love reading about my people in India. I do not really understand why women have allowed themselves to be played in a corner, by turning everything the other way round for them, women work work work and eat last but the least, here now they are denied the joy of living by being allowed to play once in a year instead of 365 days in a year and 366 days in a leap year, and if denied the right to play in one year it would be a 365 days own when they will not be able to play for 366 days when it is not a leap year.

I cannot understand the world and will never have a sleepless night for not understanding the world, what will bother me and give me sleepless night is how to change the World.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town


Stella Paul's picture


Dear Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale

Thank you so much for reading! I will pick up from where you left : How to change the world.

I strongly believe, it's like cleaning up the world. If everyone cleans his own house and the pathway, there will be no garbage!

The evil social traditions are something like the garbage. And each one can chip in and do a bit, to get rid of them.

The women featured here have started doing their bit - taking the first step to break free. I think by sharing the story I did a humble too and now you have just added to the effort. So there - the wave is formed already!

Warm regards and eagerly looking forward to exchange more, share more in coming days!


Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

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